Most of the facts that we hear about history's most notorious dictators involve their crimes against humanity and horrific political manipulations. These can be so extensive that it's almost shocking when you learn that many of these dictators actually loved animals - at least their animals. After all, how can a monster like Adolph Hitler, who devised the Holocaust, have so much love in his blackened heart for his pet German Shepherd, Blondi? And Hitler isn't the only dictator who loved his pets. Some dictators had the types of pets one might expect them to have - like cats and dogs. However, some of the wilder dictator pets include hippos, ostriches, and even man-eating crocodiles.
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Vladimir Lenin was a controversial political figure who was viewed by some as being a totalitarian dictator, while others remember him as a champion of socialism - and he just so happened to have a pet cat. No one knows what the cat's name was, though many have wondered. It's been theorized, though, that Lenin never actually named his cat, because naming it would imply ownership - which was a capitalist concept.
Others say that is an overblown, satirized view of Lenin's beliefs, and that the cat most likely had a name.
- Birthplace: Ulyanovsk, Russia
Adolf Hitler is one of the most infamous mass murderers in history, having spearheaded the Holocaust - a series of ethnic cleansings that resulted in between 6 and 11 million deaths in the 1940s. Overall, he was an absolute monster. And with that, he tried very hard to improve his image with propaganda depicting his love of animals, particularly dogs.
One of his favorite dogs was a German Shepard named Blondi - a species that was highly prized in Germany at the time. Hitler took her everywhere he went, and reportedly even allowed her to sleep with him. Despite his love for Blondi, Hitler killed her when she was only four years old.
To avoid being captured by enemy forces, Hitler decided to commit suicide. However, he didn't trust Heinrich Himmler (the man whose organization gave him the cyanide pills he planned to use), and thought that the pills might actually just be sedatives. To test this theory, Hitler fed one to Blondi - she died and he was devastated. Soon after, he had all of her puppies and all of the other dogs in his hideout, the Führerbunker, killed before he and his wife Eva Braun committed suicide.
- Birthplace: Braunau am Inn, Austria
Benito Mussolini is known to be one of the founders of Italian Fascism. Yet, while he was busy ruling Italy with an iron fist, he still somehow found time for hobbies like lion taming. In fact, he even had his own pet lion named Ras. Not much is known about Ras, only that he was given to Mussolini by Italy's undersecretary of the state at the Ministry of the Interior, Aldo Finci. We also know that Mussolini liked to take the lion with him on drives through city streets.
- Birthplace: Predappio, Italy
There are many different stories that link fascist Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin to dogs. First, the Black Russian Terrier is known colloquially as "Stalin's Dog" because the dog was purposefully bred into existence during Stalin's reign. He is even rumored to have had a personal stake in their development, intending for them to be protective watch dogs.
Stalin also ordered that dogs be fitted with explosive vests and deployed to blow up Nazi tanks. Originally, the idea was to train the dogs to set off the bombs and then escape to a safe place. This wasn't possible, as the dogs tended to panic in the heat of battle. As a result, Stalin moved toward the concept of "disposable dogs," which is exactly what it sounds like: the bombs went off automatically, killing the dog immediately.
- Birthplace: Gori, Georgia